There is a rising army of contractors, commercial companies, and even private citizens who are racing to support federal, State and local agencies’ fight against the COVID-19 virus pandemic. By engaging in certain activities that may directly impact individuals infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19, however, these contractors and other actors may be exposing themselves to potential liability claims. Specifically, infected or other individuals may be unintentionally harmed by a contractor’s activities or the countermeasures that the contractor deploys leading to the risk of subsequent lawsuits once the pandemic has subsided.
Under these circumstances, the federal government has made the appropriate policy choice that it is more important that we encourage private industry to fight the virus and, accordingly, legal protections are available to protect contractors and other actors against the vast majority of liability claims that might be brought by individuals. Specifically, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the “PREP Act”) and the March 10, 2020 declaration issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “HHS Secretary”) provide liability immunity for certain recommended activities.
For more information on these legal protections and the activities to which they apply, please visit our client alert.